Cricket: Hemmings humbles West Indies

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The Independent Online
reports from Hove

Sussex 446-9dec West Indies 186 and 139 Sussex win by an innings and 121 runs

It was all wrapped up by half past three, as satisfying a package as they come for a county on the breadline in terms of the Championship. But while Sussex pocketed pounds 7,500 for their innings victory here, the West Indies slipped quietly away, their pride dented and precious little time in which to pick themselves up for the start of the third Test at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Richie Richardson put on a brave face once the dust had settled, but in his heart of hearts surely the captain is a worried man. To be bowled over by a fresh-faced youngster and the circuit's old-timer was just about the pits.

Jason Lewry, left-arm over, more medium than fast, and Eddie Hemmings, the off-spinner they nicknamed the Whale, shared eight wickets yesterday after the West Indies followed on for the first time against a county since Kent were the enforcers in 1933. Lewry, in his debut season in the big time and who two summers ago was playing in the Sussex Invitation League, took 4 for 38. Hemmings, ex-England, ex-Warwickshire, ex-Nottinghamshire and just plain excellent, who at 46 is 22 years older than Lewry, took 4 for 33.

While the performance of the pair was the highlight of the final day, no one was forgetting what had gone before. Keith Newell, 23, collected the man of the match award with his maiden century. Neil Lenham, too, had contributed three figures, the makeshift openers plundering 263 on the first day before they were separated.

In fact, Sussex were far more makeshift than their opponents. Bill Athey has shingles, Jamie Hall is nursing a broken left hand and Martin Speight has been laid low all season with a virus, while on the bowling side Ed Giddins was resting. Compared to the West Indies, who fielded their front seven batsmen minus Brian Lara and omitted Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, it should have been no contest.

It was, but in favour of Sussex, who have a proud record when it comes to achievements of this nature. Only four counties have beaten the West Indies by an innings and Sussex have now managed the feat twice, though the last time was 77 years ago. They also won here in 1966 against these tourists, whose last defeat by a county came against Middlesex at Lord's 10 years later.

Yesterday, the West Indies resumed seven down and with another 130 needed to avoid the follow on. Within three-quarters of an hour, they were doing just that, their one first innings' sticker, Keith Arthurton, bowled by Paul Jarvis for a top score of 75 and the leg spinner Ian Salisbury collecting two for three in one over to complete the niceties.

Any thoughts of a respite prior to lunch were then soon dispelled amid the clattering of timber, Lewry clean bowling Carl Hooper, who looks most uncomfortable as an opener, and Franklyn Stephenson, Sussex's Bajan, knocking out Richardson's middle stump and then removing Sherwin Campbell's off- peg with a real snorter.

Arthurton, back at the crease inside the hour, then survived the break together with Jimmy Adams. But Hemmings, in a situation that was tailor made for him, and Lewry began working their way through any further resistance and the hospitality tents were still in full cry when Ottis Gibson finally holed out off Lewry.

Fittingly, the catcher at mid-off was Alan Wells and the captain was gracious rather than crowing in triumph. "I have to say we had the better of the conditions," he said.

Innings defeats for

West Indies since 1980

1995: Hove Tour match, Sussex by an innings and 121 runs

1994-95: Kingston fourth Test, Australia by an innings and 53

1991-92: Hobart Tour match, Australian XI by an innings and 93

1984-85: Sydney fifth Test, Australia by an innings and 55